By: Erin Gloster, Editorial Intern
If there was ever a time for small business owners to straighten their ties, update their websites, or increase their contact lists, now would be that time: Earlier this year, President Barack Obama signed a spending bill of $1.1 trillion and within it, an incentive for large companies to subcontract with small businesses in the 2014 fiscal year. Though we see the federal budget in the trillions, “the budget procurement of goods and services is roughly $400-500 billion, [out of this] roughly 23 percent or 80-90 billion goes to small business,” says Lourdes Martin-Rosa, president and founder of Government Business Solutions LLC and the advisor on Government Contracting for American Express OPEN. “A lot of money that was allocated is being used for larger products. Even if there’s a larger piece of the pie that may be going to big corporations, there’s still that piece of the pie that’s going to small businesses in teaming and subcontracting.”
The signing of the budget opened up an avenue for large businesses to subcontract with smaller businesses. “Now that the money is there and the budget has been approved, these contracts are going out,” explains Martin-Rosa. “We’re seeing that the money that should have been allocated in 2013 is now being awarded in 2014. There’s flow-over into small businesses.”
And many large businesses are adapting. According to Martin-Rosa, large organizations and companies such as NASA “has a $40 million contract that is to provide learning and workshops for facilities [and TSA] just recently put out an exercise training contract, for $30 million, allowing small businesses to have a more competitive edge.” This contract is the largest Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Small Business contract to date.
How do small businesses get first dibs on these lucrative contracts and partnerships? Martin-Rosa advises getting involved in a business mentoring relationship. ChallengeHER is an organization that assists minority and women-owned small businesses looking to participate in federal contracting. And American Express OPEN’s mentorship program, for example, helps clients find important contracts while also saving time and moving potential into action. Martin-Rosa also encourages small businesses to explore the GSA schedule contracts and programs. GSA establishes long-term, government-wide contracts with commercial firms to provide access to millions of commercial products and service at volume discount pricing. Exploring this program will provide small businesses with another avenue towards growth and success. IDIQ (Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity) contracts and provide for an indefinite quantity of services for a fixed time. Taking part in this contract, Martin-Rosa points out, will help establish your small business.
With a federal budget that provides greater opportunities for small business, all businesses have the potential to flourish. Teamwork is the operative term.